I am a poet. I didn’t put pen to paper for 17 years, not until I moved here to Minnesota and started taking classes at Century College in the fall of 2013. At 33 years old, I began fulfilling a lifelong dream of pursuing a degree. It was at Century College where I took my first creative writing class in adulthood. I began writing poetry again, this thing I did when I was a kid, but under the thumb of abuse, it was something I forgot that I loved to do. I’ve been writing and performing poetry ever since because it’s this art that sustains me.
For the past two years, I have been collaborating with JG Everest, a musician / composer based in the Twin Cities. It was evident from the start that what James and I create together is really something special. Unique and authentic. This blending of his guitar playing and the words I speak, mostly poems, all original work, along with storytelling, truly resonates with a wide audience. After each performance I am so moved by those who approach me/us afterward. The stories that get shared back.
I was in the audience once when Sherman Alexie said, “Vulnerability is contagious.” This is the best way to describe what happens. My body of work is one that speaks the hard truth. Many hard truths. I cover topics like child molestation, rape, emotional, mental, and physical abuse. Addiction and childhood trauma. Identity and nature. Spirituality. But also, my work celebrates family, motherhood, community, hope, forgiveness, and love. Above all, love.
I relate the psychological trauma from our human experience to the trauma which occurs to the body when we are wounded. All wounds take an incredible amount of time to heal. Some never fully do and generally we are left with a scar. I believe the part of the healing process that helps us most is when we allow our wounds to get air, to breathe. How do our internal wounds get air? How to heal the hurt inside of us? By speaking our truths. Sharing our experiences with one another and realizing that we are all the same. I push the audience with the content of my work, I know it can be difficult to feel the things I hope to help others feel, and that’s where James comes in with his incredibly beautiful, sometimes haunting music that captures the emotion of my poetry so perfectly, offering another vehicle to our audience, a way into the content. A close friend once said, “it’s the spoonful of sugar that helps the medicine go down.”
I feel as though I am a healer. A teacher. Somehow, I have survived so much trauma, and although I suffer from PTSD, depression and anxiety, I do not allow the past, the things that were done to me, to prevent me from living the best version of myself each and everyday. I feel as though I have found my voice and it is a voice of experience and empathy, but it’s not something that is mine and mine alone. I have been blessed with a gift that I hope will inspire and come alive in others. This journey began when I fled an abusive relationship from the father of my five children, and came home to Minnesota. Mni Sota Makoce. I feel as though the land called me here. I am Dakota, I am a storyteller, a healer, and I have come home.